Reading will be desperate to bounce back this evening as they take on Luton Town, another potential promotion contender.
The Royals will feel extremely aggrieved at the outcome of Saturday’s clash against Burnley, with Tom Ince clearly being tripped in the box before the Clarets went up the other end and secured the winner.
This latest tie at Kenilworth Road will be another tricky assignment for the visitors tonight - but they will take heart from the fact they were level throughout the vast majority of the weekend’s game in Lancashire.
Will that give them enough confidence to go and get something from this upcoming fixture though? Let’s hope so.
Ahead of this evening, we have some facts and thoughts for you.
What? Championship Matchday 18
Who? Luton Town
Where? Kenilworth Road
When? Tuesday 1st November
Opposition Manager? Nathan Jones
The Hatters can be a very dangerous team, with their performance against Queens Park Rangers last month showing why they were at the top end of the division last term. Making a fast start, pressing high and putting Michael Beale’s team on the back foot from the first whistle, they put in a performance worthy of promotion and it reminded me of our 2011/12 side.
On paper, they may not appear the most threatening but they work extremely well together as a team and have a decent number of options up top to cause problems. Carlton Morris was a brilliant signing and is already showing his worth, with his contributions potentially crucial to guiding the Bedfordshire outfit into the promotion mix once more at the end of the season.
At this stage, it would actually be a surprise if they didn’t secure a top-six finish and that just goes to show how well Jones and his team have developed in recent years. They just need to ensure they take the initiative and assert themselves as the dominant side in the vast majority of their home games, something they have the ability to do after beating a very decent QPR side.
The anger in the fanbase following Saturday’s game probably won’t be matched for a while.
On the balance of play, the hosts deserved the three points in the end but to lose in the way we did was and still is a real kick in the teeth. On another day, we would’ve been travelling back down to Berkshire with three points under our belt and full of optimism going into this evening’s clash. If we had won at Turf Moor, we probably would have been looking at this game as a free hit and that would’ve allowed us to play without pressure.
We aren’t in the worst position at this stage - but getting as many points on the board between now and the World Cup break will be important to ensure we remain in a respectable position.
It’s just frustrating that no one in the division seems to be doomed yet. I’m still in the process of identifying three teams that will almost certainly be below us when the end of the season comes. Perhaps I should focus more on us though!
Opposition Player I’d Like: Gabriel Osho
I would take Morris all day long if we were desperate for options up top. And in fairness, he could be extremely useful for the Royals if we wanted to change formation, able to operate both out wide and through the middle.
He didn’t deserve to be relegated with Barnsley last season and he’s already proving his worth this term, so he’s someone to keep an eye on.
However, with our injury crisis worsening in central defence following the withdrawal of Tom McIntyre, having Osho back may be ideal.
Managing to remain in the second tier following his departure from the Select Car Leasing Stadium, he will be reasonably satisfied with how his career has panned out since leaving the side he spent many years with.
Following his dismissal against Watford, he won’t be available for this evening but I’d much rather have him as an option than some of our current first-teamers.
The Last Meeting
Luton Town 1-0 Reading
Starting XI: Lumley, Rahman, McIntyre, Holmes, Mbengue, Yiadom, Loum, Hendrick, Ince, Meite, Long
Joe Lumley put in a decent performance at the weekend and deserves to keep his spot once again, consigning Dean Bouzanis to a place on the bench.
The back five remains the same if Tom McIntyre is back in time, with Baba Rahman potentially able to provide more defensively solidity than Nesta Guinness-Walker.
There’s one change in midfield with Ovie Ejaria coming out, allowing Tom Ince to take up an advanced midfield role.
And this enables Shane Long to start alongside Yakou Meite, with both able to be a real threat on their day.
Score Prediction: Luton Town 1-0 Reading
Here are my predictions for the rest of the midweek fixtures:
Coventry City 1-2 Blackburn Rovers
Hull City 0-2 Middlesbrough
Preston North End 2-3 Swansea City
Bristol City 1-3 Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Blackpool
Birmingham City 2-1 Millwall
Burnley 2-0 Rotherham United
Cardiff City 0-1 Watford
Huddersfield Town 1-0 Sunderland
Norwich City 0-2 Queens Park Rangers
Wigan Athletic 1-1 Stoke City